Saturday, January 07, 2006

Not Seeing the Forest for the Trees

Mark Steyn
for one makes a very compelling analysis how 'Stuck on Stupid' western liberal progressive people have become. Here are just a couple of excerpts...
"There are many trouble spots around the world, but as a general rule, it's easy to make an educated guess at one of the participants: Muslims vs. Jews in "Palestine," Muslims vs. Hindus in Kashmir, Muslims vs. Christians in Africa, Muslims vs. Buddhists in Thailand, Muslims vs. Russians in the Caucasus, Muslims vs. backpacking tourists in Bali. Like the environmentalists, these guys think globally but act locally."

The jihad has held out a long time against very tough enemies. If you're not shy about taking on the Israelis, the Russians, the Indians and the Nigerians, why wouldn't you fancy your chances against the Belgians and Danes and New Zealanders?

"So the jihadists are for the most part doing no more than giving us a prod in the rear as we sleepwalk to the cliff. When I say "sleepwalk," it's not because we're a blasé culture. On the contrary, one of the clearest signs of our decline is the way we expend so much energy worrying about the wrong things. If you've read Jared Diamond's bestselling book "Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed," you'll know it goes into a lot of detail about Easter Island going belly up because they chopped down all their trees. Apparently that's why they're not a G-8 member or on the U.N. Security Council. Same with the Greenlanders and the Mayans and Diamond's other curious choices of "societies." Indeed, as the author sees it, pretty much every society collapses because it chops down its trees.

Poor old Diamond can't see the forest because of his obsession with the trees. (Russia's collapsing even as it's undergoing reforestation.) One way "societies choose to fail or succeed" is by choosing what to worry about."

Jonah Goldberg
for another example of how 'Stuck on Stupid' the US political wonks have become. Please God, save America from all of the misguided reformers. Here is an excerpt...

"There’s an ancient cliché in Washington that the real crime isn’t what’s illegal but what’s legal. Campaign-finance “reform” is usually the most fertile soil for this cliché. Politicians complain that focusing on enforcement of existing laws misses the “big picture.” The whole “system” is corrupt.

And they are largely correct. Not just on campaign finance, but in terms of corporate involvement in politics across the board. The problem is that liberals and others wearing the “reformer” label consistently offer the wrong remedy for the right diagnosis. They want more regulation, more oversight, more government. This has it backwards.

If you think someone is hugging you too hard, what do you do? You push him away. You don’t hug him back. And yet, it is considered the height of enlightened policymaking to say that, in answer to corporate America’s bear hug, Washington should hug back twice as hard.

If you want to know why business takes such an interest in Washington, the answer can be found in your low-flow toilet, in the warning labels adorning your cars, in your 8 zillion page tax returns. It can be found while you wait on hold trying to get a human to answer your questions about your health insurance. And the answer is most certainly somewhere in your box of cereal, made with grains subsidized by Uncle Sam and coated in sugar that has no business being grown in the United States of America. Corporations meddle in Washington because Washington meddles with them.

It is simply naive to believe that a businessman will have no interest in politics when politicians have taken a great interest in him. And it is grotesquely unfair to assume that businesspeople are corrupt simply because they want to support politicians less inclined to hurt them.

Microsoft CEO Bill Gates used to brag that he barely spent a dime on lobbying — “I live in the other Washington,” he liked to say. But the very moment that government — federal and state — tried to tear apart his company, Gates abandoned his view that the New Economy could ignore the Old Politics. Now D.C. is awash in Microsoft lobbyists. Wal-Mart is only now learning the same lesson. If you don’t get in the game, you might be regulated out of it.

Of course, not all businesses that support politicians of either party are doing it out of self-protection. Some are merely rent-seeking opportunists. Some are both. Sugar growers, for example, have ripped off taxpayers and consumers to the tune of billions. If government stopped protecting the industry from competition, it would mostly disappear and stop gouging us at the same time.

Liberals think Republicans are living up to their principles when they get cozy with fat cats. The reality is that Republicans betray their principles when they give fat cats a reason to come to Washington to begin with."